Ghost in the Shell: Entertaining in a Nutshell

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Ghost in the Shell -- Blu-ray

GHOST IN THE SHELL (available July 25 on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD) tells the story of a special anti-cybercrime unit identified as Section 9 whose job it is protect the citizens of the world in the future of 2029, where the gap between human and cyborg has blurred to the point that almost every human has some form of cyber enhancement. Section 9’s leader, “Major” (Scarlet Johansson), is the ultimate expression of human/cyborg integration, where the only part of her that is still human is her brain. After being told she was rescued from a near death experience, her mind was put in a totally cyber body--the first of her kind, she is told. As she and her team are investigating a dangerous criminal who is killing top executives of a major cyber technology company, Major discovers a shocking truth about her identity and past life, and seeks to exact revenge against the company that created and tried to control her.

The future is not dystopian, but the story itself has the underlying themes of: Where lies the essence of being human in the body? What is it to be human?

The Blu-ray disc does the visual quality of the movie justice. Rarely does a live action movie capture the complexity of an anime, but this one does, and in Blu-ray you’re able to see everything. The DVD version is also very good, but you can really see it all on the Blu-ray disc. Plus the Blu-ray disc has extras that I will go on record as saying that, after you see them, they will make the next time you watch the movie even better. I wouldn’t necessarily say watch them first, but definitely watch them afterwards and then watch the movie again.

The Extras are:

  • Hard Wired Humanity: Making of Ghost In The Shell

  • Section 9 Cyber Defenders

  • Man and Machine: The Ghost Philosophy

As you can imagine, these extras give you the behind the scenes making of the movie, as well as the insights of the actors’ portrayals of their roles which give key insights on the characters and the director’s vision--which is the heart of the movie itself.

 

 

From a personal perspective, I found the movie shot with striking similarities to BLADE RUNNER (1982), THE 5TH ELEMENT (1997), and THE MATRIX (1999)--almost to the point of being too similar. It was like the film was trying to take each similarity and out-do the visuals of the other movies. Most notably for me is that the movie shows a future with most of the world appearing to be a heavily Asian influenced culture as in BLADE RUNNER, with large cities and floating billboards of THE 5TH ELEMENT, just a bit too much making it look more anime than sci-fi. This is fine, because I think that was the real idea behind how the film was shot.

I would imagine the bigger the screen, the more awe inspiring it will be. With a stellar cast of international stars and SCARLETT JOHANSSON of course, who is beautiful on any size screen and without a doubt probably the finest actress of her generation. (Roles aside, I know of no other leading lady who puts as much visual and vocal emotion into everything she does, and that includes Jennifer Lawrence, whom I also think the world of.) With Scarlett it’s not just the obvious actions she brings to her role, but the nuances; the slight physical ticks she brings to each character’s body movements and facial gestures that set her apart.

Her role here only cements that, and is not overshadowed by the movie, only enhanced by it. The same goes for the other actors as well; they complement each other and come across as a team on the screen.

I never found the picture lagging in fluidity, and my 4K TV allows the benefits of Blu-ray to really shine. If you saw it when it was in the theater or if it is your first time in watching it, the movie shows well on the small screen and should be enjoyed by any fan. It is shot in the dark at times, so the better your TV is at displaying the darks, the more you will be able to see the contrasts and follow what is going on.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0